We’ve all been there, sandwiched into a middle seat, somewhere towards the back of the plane. Maybe an hour into the flight, but in this seat, time seems to be ever so slowly and uncomfortably moving along. Is it just you or are the minutes of your trip crawling in slow motion, could it be possible that time actually does move at a different rate for people who are mid-flight than for people on the ground?

I’m sure you’ve heard the idea that time doesn’t pass at the same rate for everyone. It’s a common narrative in science fiction, you know, Einstein’s theory of relativity.

As the storyline may go, a man goes on an interstellar voyage, and when he returns, years later he is younger than he should be, younger than his peers of the same age. The theory predicts that a fast-moving clock will tick at a slower rate than a stationary one or, a man traveling across the galaxy will age more slowly than people back on Earth. This theory also says that gravity affects the rate of a ticking clock, or how people age. A clock in a stronger gravitational field (the Earth’s surface) will have a slower tick rate than a clock in weaker gravity (a few miles up). You may be asking: Why do I even bring any of this up? Well, I’ve seen the question asked a few times, do flight attendants/pilots age faster? Since they spend so much time flying, is it bad for your skin, for your health, does it age you?


Scientists have shown that tick rates change at speeds as slow as 25 miles per hour and height differences as small as afoot.

So if this occurs under these everyday conditions, is the slowed-down aging experienced by the space traveler also experienced by the frequent flier, and those flying in the aviation industry? A cross-country flight is so short when compared to flying off to another planet, sure, but you’re still going a lot faster than someone who’s not traveling at all.

People on commercial flights are going fast, at speeds of around 500 miles an hour, and because they’re about six miles from the ground, they’re also feeling a weaker gravitational pull. So do airline travelers age more slowly, since they’re traveling at high speeds? Or do they age more quickly, since they’re subject to less gravity?

Scientists have done the math, and it turns out that frequent fliers actually age the tiniest bit more quickly than people with both feet on the ground.

But not to worry, the difference is so small, you don’t have to worry about extra wrinkles. By the time one racks up, say 10 million frequent flier miles, they’ll have aged only 59 microseconds more than normal.

I’ve made a list of things that will probably take a greater toll on your youthfulness:

  • Working the graveyard shift
  • Sun exposure
  • Drugs (just say no)
  • Cigarettes
  • LA traffic
  • Stress (take a vacation)

Please allow us to alleviate some of your stress. With the StaffTraveler app, you’ll make your non-rev trips easy and stess-free.

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